Acupoint Sensitization is Associated with Increased Excitability and Hyperpolarization-Activated Current (I h ) in C- But Not Aδ-Type Neurons

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Abstract

Under pathological conditions, acupoint sensitization is the phenomenon of acupoints transforming from the stable state to the dynamic state. Evidences suggest that hyperpolarization-activated current (I h ), conducted by the hyperpolarization-activated/cyclic nucleotide-gated (HCN) channel, greatly contributes to the peripheral and central sensitization. However, the role of the I h current in acupoint sensitization has not been explained. In the present study, changes in excitability, I h density and the HCN channel of dorsal root ganglion (DRG) nociceptive neurons were examined in the later phase of knee osteoarthritis (KOA) rats. To investigate the neuronal specificity of acupoint sensitization, retrograde dyes were injected into the acupoints ST35 and GB37. The results showed that acupoint sensitization occurred in bilateral ST35 but not GB37 acupoints. The excitability and I h density of C- but not A δ -type neurons innervating ST35 acupoint increased in bilateral L5 DRG of acupoint sensitized rats than that of sham rats. No obvious changes were found in the excitability or I h density of C- and A δ -type neurons innervating the GB37 acupoint in the bilateral L5 DRG. HCN channel subtype 2 (HCN2) expression levels significantly increased after acupoint sensitization. Furthermore, ZD7288, an HCN current (I h ) blocker, attenuated the acupoint sensitization of the ST35 acupoint. Taken together, our findings suggest that the increased excitability of C- but not A δ -type neurons and the upregulation of I h /HCN2 channels contribute to the formation of acupoint sensitization.

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Zhang, M., Guo, H., Ma, Y., Xu, F., Bai, F., Liang, S., … Xiong, L. (2019). Acupoint Sensitization is Associated with Increased Excitability and Hyperpolarization-Activated Current (I h ) in C- But Not Aδ-Type Neurons. Neuroscience, 404, 499–509. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroscience.2019.02.028

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